Launch of EU project to develop appropriate teacher education for the assessment of
scientific knowledge and skills – SAILS *
The Minister for Education and Science, Ruairí Quinn TD, today launched the EU-funded science-education project, SAILS (Strategies for Assessment of Inquiry Learning in Science). The EU has allocated €3.75m funding under Framework 7 to this project, which is led by Dr. Odilla Finlayson, Dr.Eilish McLoughlin, Dr. Paul van Kampen, Dr. Sarah Brady and Dr. Deirdre McCabe of CASTeL at DCU.
To mark the project launch an event was held in the Helix at Dublin City University (DCU) and was attended by representatives from the partner organisations in this project and members of national education bodies. DCU will coordinate the SAILS consortium of thirteen partner organisations, including universities, SMEs and the multi-national organisation, Intel, from across twelve countries – Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Sweden, Turkey and United Kingdom. This consortium, with 45 individual participants, aims to bring about a change in the way science is taught and assessed in the classroom. In addition to the Minister for Education and Science, the speakers at today’s launch include Prof. Brian MacCraith, President of Dublin City University, Prof. Paul Black, Emeritus Professor of Science Education, King’s College London and Mr. Brendan Cannon, Corporate Affairs Director at Intel Ireland.
In speaking at the launch Dr. Odilla Finlayson, the project coordinator for SAILS, said “An inquiry based approach has been highlighted as having the potential to increase student engagement in science. The main objective of this project is to support teachers in adopting inquiry based science education (IBSE) at second level. In particular, we will focus on how key skills and competencies, such as, critical thinking, problem solving, creativity and collaboration, can be developed through IBSE and how they can be appropriately assessed. SAILS aims to prepare teachers, not only to be able to teach through IBSE, but also to be confident and competent in the assessment of their students’ learning through IBSE”.
Through a focused approach of implementing all the necessary components for transforming classroom practice, i.e. teacher education, curriculum and assessment around IBSE pedagogy, a sustainable model for science education will be developed through the SAILS project.
“We consider that the SAILS project is important in Ireland at the current time, particularly with the focus in national curricula on key skills and competencies. The development of appropriate teacher education programmes directed towards the assessment of skills will be a significant output for informing science education across Europe”, said Dr. Eilish McLoughlin, Director CASTeL and coordinator of the ESTABLISH project funded under the FP7 programme in 2010. “The long-term aim of IBSE is to generate a greater interest in science subjects at school, improve the take-up of science at third level and also increase the number of skilled graduates for employment in science and technology”.
The SAILS project will provide teacher training workshops across the twelve participating countries and online facilities where teachers can share experiences and practices of inquiry approaches to teaching, learning and assessment.
Also speaking at the launch, Mr. Brendan Cannon, Corporate Affairs Director at Intel Ireland said “The ability of Ireland to be competitive in the future and to create sustained, long term employment requires us to put in place foundations in education that emphasis 21st century skills based learning. Intel recognises the importance of effective collaboration between industry and academia in order to ensure our education system equips young people with the talents and skills that offer them the best opportunities for fulfilling careers in Ireland’s knowledge economy”.
Ruairí Quinn TD, Minister for Education and Science at the launch at DCU of a €3.75m EU-funded initiative which will revolutionise the way science is taught and assessed in the classroom.
Ruairí Quinn TD, Minister for Education and Science (centre) is pictured with Intel’s Brendan Cannon and Brian MacCraith of DCU at the launch of the SAILS project
Further images from the event can be found here:
Intel is a world leader in computing innovation. The company designs and builds the essential technologies that serve as the foundation for the world’s computing devices.
CASTeL is an interdisciplinary research centre of academics, postdoctoral and postgraduate researchers with the common objective of enhancing the teaching and learning of science and mathematics at all educational levels, supported by evidence-based research and informed by international good practice. CASTeL developed organically within DCU in 2000, and latterly across DCU and SPD, through shared interests in science and mathematics education. This interest was first ignited in DCU by a concern about the decline in student preference for science subjects at second level, and difficulties in mathematics for many students. CASTeL members lead the delivery of concurrent undergraduate pre-service education programmes for teachers in mathematics and science (BSc in Science Education/BEd. Education) and postgraduate programmes in mathematics and science education leading to taught (MSc in Science Education/MEd. Education) and research MSc/PhD qualifications.
CASTeL research activities include developing effective approaches to teaching, learning and assessment; investigating attitudes, motivation and cognitive development in science and mathematics learning; professional development of pre-service and in-service teachers, across all levels of education. Members of CASTeL are active in a wide variety of national and international projects, including three EU FP7 funded projects (ESTABLISH- coordinated by DCU, Fibonacci and Pathway). These projects are aimed at providing teachers with pedagogical knowledge that will enable them to facilitate more innovative, inquiry-based learning in their science and mathematics classrooms. Through these and other activities, CASTeL aims to provide a sustained impact on teacher and student learning in science and mathematics education. http://www.castel.ie/
About the EU Seventh Framework Programme
FP7 is the short name for the Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development. This is the EU’s main instrument for funding research in Europe and it will run from 2007-2013. FP7 is also designed to respond to Europe’s employment needs, competitiveness and quality of life. Visit the website for further information.